Tag Archives: love for learning

Teaching Children HOW to Learn


Speaking about “Building Study Skills and Comprehension” at a conference



There are many aspects of teaching a child how to learn, one of which is working to increase our children’s comprehension. When people have good comprehension, they can learn anything, anywhere, anytime.

There are three primary ways that we have worked to increase our children’s comprehension: (1) Discussion with parents and those more knowledgeable than the child; (2) Good questions following reading or discussions; and (3) Provide a rich background of experience.


The first two of those go hand-in-hand. Discussion of everything with our children from very young ages has given our kids experiences in areas that they would normally not have experiences in. It gives us the opportunity to teach all the time—and gives them learning hooks that they create with the discussion material to bring into other learning situations.
Good questions, not just rote questions, help the student think more deeply about subjects and allow you to observe his thought processes and help them along. Lastly, a rich background of experience gives your student the edge in learning any subject. Like discussion, it gives a child more knowledge, more background, more information to bring into future learning scenarios.


I am adding some information about teaching children how to learn, good materials, links to articles, etc., in the sidebar of this article for those who would like to study this further. Just being aware of always teaching our kids how to learn, how to study, how to research, how to further their understanding is a big step in teaching kids how to learn. 


SIDEBAR….


                        Tips and Links for Teaching Children How to Learn




~People often ask us what we would have done differently in our homeschool. One of the things I would have done differently is that every child, every year would have done a thinking skills book of some sort from the Critical Thinking Company: http://www.criticalthinking.com/index.jsp?code=c





~Dozens of articles on reading instruction, readability, creating an environment conducive to reading instruction, choosing readers, and much more!http://positiveparenting3-6-5.blogspot.com/search/label/reading%20instruction


Taming the Television Part II of II

“There are games to be played, living room football to be conquered, talks to be had, words of affirmation to be spoken, talking books to be listened to, stories to be read, lessons to be learned, foods to be cooked, lego castles to be built, crafts to be made, tales to be told, songs to be sung, and hearts to be won. Turn off the television and turn on relationships.”



Today I bring you more tips for Taming the Television. I pray that these will help you to make the most of the time you have with your children. You will never regret the hours upon hours you spend discipling, mentoring, nurtering, heart training, and playing with your kids–take it from a mama with a thirty year old! Smile…


7. Replace television with something else—you!

About thirty years ago we went to a parenting seminar in which the speaker told a story of a dad who wanted to get rid of his family’s television. His children balked at the idea. He told them that he was taking away the television but giving them something else. They asked him what this something else was, and he replied, “Me!”

Everyday his children would call him at work, anxiously awaiting his arrival home. “What are we going to do tonight, Daddy?” And each day he gave his children something far more valuable than television: he gave them himself.

Don’t just remove television, certain nights of tv viewing, or tv time without replacing it. There are games to be played, living room football to be conquered, talks to be had, words of affirmation to be spoken, talking books to be listened to, stories to be read, lessons to be learned, foods to be cooked, lego castles to be built, crafts to be made, songs to be sung, and hearts to be won. Turn off the television and turn on relationships.



8. Have the children earn television hours.

This has been suggested to us many times when we speak about time management and time with your children, so it must work well for some folks! I have heard of various ways to earn tv time—same number of hours reading as watching, getting so many minutes per chore, earning minutes by doing things on time (i.e. homework done by six equals 30 mins tv), etc.




9. Watch out for preschoolers’ screen time!

This isn’t a method for controlling as much as an admonition. Your preschoolers will grow to dislike simple pleasures very quickly if they watch television and movies all day. We had a “no movie during the day period” rule most of our lives. (The exception to this was one hour of educational dvds, like Reading Rainbow, Doughnut Man, NEST videos, etc. for one hour after naps with one particularly trying child.)

Note: The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends no more than two hours per day of television for two year olds through preschoolers and none at all for children under two. There are so many more educational, meaningful, physical, and fun things for two, three, and four year olds to do besides watching television!

We teach the concept of “setting children’s tastes” in our parenting seminar–and it is so real and so true and so impacting that we want to shout it where ever we speak. Just like my two oldest kids despise pop because we “set their tastes” by not ever giving them any when they were little, so we set all of our children’s tastes for continual entertainment by bombarding them with it when they are young.



10. Make a “no turning on the television without permission” rule.

 I am amazed when children come into a house and turn on the television. I have seen semi-pornography on commercials for television shows many, many times when we are at someone’s house watching football or in a motel viewing television. I would never consider letting our kids have the remote control to a tv and flipping through the channels. They just see way more than they should see at their ages (or more than I want me or my husband to see!).



11. Be careful not to use television as a babysitter too much.

I know preschoolers and toddlers are demanding. I had six kids twelve and under all at home by myself twelve to fourteen hours a day every day—without television (or even computers!)! However, continually putting little ones in front of the television is simply not healthy for them. Their attention spans will not lengthen like they would if they were listening to talking books, listening to you read aloud, “baking” a play-dough pie, or building with Duplos. Use the television as a babysitter only when it is absolutely needed—and try to find other ways to entertain toddlers as much as possible.




12. Limit daytime viewing for everyone.

 We always told our kids that daytime isfor learning and working—and evenings are for resting, fellowshipping, playing, and family. It is extremely hard to control the number of hours our kids watch television when they watch from seven to eight before school and again from four to six after school—to start with!




13. Pay attention to how much time children spend using all screen media.

In a study recorded in the Official Journal of the American Academy of Pediatrics, the hours of actual screen time logged by children versus the hours that parents estimated were significantly different. In our media-driven age, we should be aware of all of our children’s media/screen time—not just television*. In order to control the amount of time our children sit in front of entertainment screens, we must be realistic and honest about the amount of time they truly are being entertained by any screen.




14. Do not put a television set in a child’s bedroom.

The aforementioned study discovered that children with televisions in their bedrooms watch significantly more television than children without. Furthermore, parents monitored television habits much less when there were many television sets in a household—and especially when the children’s rooms contained televisions.


15.  Turn the television off when it is not being used for purposeful viewing.

 The study previously cited found a negative association between the use of television as “background” and children’s time spent reading. Quite frankly, reading is a simple pleasure that many children do not enjoy—background noise of television is not conducive to enjoying this pasttime that takes a great deal more effort than simply viewing and listening.



16. Pinpoint other nonscreen, in-home activities that your children enjoy.

When discussing the idea of reducing television viewing time in your home, you might have a family meeting and draw up a list of other ideas of things the family can do instead of watching television. A website devoted to helping families reduce their dependence upon television, The Television Turnoff Network (http://www.televisionturnoff.org/), lists one hundred alternatives to “screen time” that parents can suggest to their children.





Family time is worth fighting for. The relationships that can be developed when some of the distractions are removed are incredible. The amazing things that we and our children can do with the time that we are not watching television are worthwhile. Don’t let your children set out to spend nearly fourteen years of their lives watching television!

*Jordan, Amy, PhD; James C. Hersey, PhD; Judith A. McDivitt, PhD; Carrie D. Heitzler, MPH. “Reducing Children’s Television-Viewing Time: A Qualitative Study of Parents and Their Children.” Official Journal of the American Academy of Pediatrics. Web. Feb 2010.

Taming the Television (Plus!) Part I of II**

“TV will never be a serious competitor for radio because people must sit and keep their eyes glued on a screen; the average American family hasn’t time for it. “ from New York Times, 1939



With so many new year’s resolutions involving time–family time, controlling time, more time with those we love, less wasted time, etc., I thought I would re-work parts of a lengthy series I did on here a few years ago–this time titled “Taming the Television.”

When Ray and I speak or write about allowing more time to be with your kids, we are always asked how we have so much time for our kids, especially in light of our business and ministry. And the answer lies in not where we get the time (we all get the same amount, remember), but where we allocate the time we have been given.

Thirty-two years ago this summer Ray and I were married in a little country church. The best marriage advice we received (and followed) has also become our best parenting advice: do not get a television. Somebody told us not to get a television set for the first year of marriage but instead spend time together, talking and getting to know one another, developing intimacy and romance. We took that advice—and have been “stationless” for most of the thirty-two years of our family, though we did get a vcr and eventually a dvd to watch movies. (We tried getting stations one year, but didn’t like the way it dictated our evening schedule and stole time from us. We just got a television and Netflix about a month ago–and so far, so good!)

With the advent of computers, dvd’s, i-pads, and other electronic devices, we have other things to contend with for our attention—and our entire family loves movies—however, we have found that by not being able to get television stations (via antennae, box, cable, etc.), we have gained the most-sought-after commodity: time. The latest statistic on television viewing in America is twenty-eight hours per week, per person. Even if we and our children watch three movies a week (which is a stretch many months), we still have twenty more hours every week than the “average” American.

We cannot tell people that they should get rid of television as it is all bad. Nowadays, more than ever before, there are tons of good, interesting, entertaining things to watch. Educational and informative programs abound. Good movies are available at the flip of the remote. However, one thing has stayed the same: television (and now internet or internet television) is the greatest time robber of all things that vie for our attention.

Getting rid of television programming is not an option for most people, I realize. After all, it’s an American institution! However, I propose to you that even getting control of the television could potentially yield you more time than you would know what to do with! And would give you literally hours each week to spend with your kids.

Consider the math for a moment. If a person is the “average” American watching twenty-eight hours a week of television, over an eighty year life, that person will have watched 13.29 YEARS of television—28 hours a week x 4 weeks x 80 years=116,480 hours….divided by 24 hours in each day equals 4,854 hours, which equals 13.29 years of twenty-four hour days. Imagine the relationships we could build with our children; imagine the things we could learn; imagine the good we could do—with even half of that time, say six and a half years—given to us. Makes me want to control my time just a little better!

Today and tomorrow I will give you many ideas and tips for Taming the Television–some that we have used successfully and some that we have heard of others using. Here we go:


1. Set weekly time limits.

 Even with the ability to only watch movies for at least thirty of our thirty-two years, we have had to set weekly limits when it seemed that every day someone wanted to watch a movie! We have usually had the four to six hour movie rule per week—and found that this was enough for the kids to watch a thing or two that they wanted on dvd (currently Monk on dvd) and a family movie or two.

This varies with kids, too. A couple of our kids really like watching movies; our three boys recently went an entire month without watching anything, even though they were allowed to watch if they asked. Now they got a television series on dvd and have watched several hours in one week. It is the spirit of this rule—not the letter—that we try to follow. It is about being in control of your life (and teaching your kids to be in control of theirs)—not about a certain number. We balance this time out so that it is enough entertainment to enjoy being entertained, but not so much that it controls our lives.*

 2. Set television days.

We had a rule for over a dozen years that other than educational dvd’s (we use some teachers on cd/dvd for school), movies could only be watched on Friday, Saturday, or Sunday. I prefer the #1 idea as sometimes the children wanted to watch, watch, watch simply because it was the weekend.*



 

3. Decide ahead of time what programs/times/days the family will watch television each week.

 Many child development experts recommend this—and call it the “family viewing schedule.” Write these programs/times on a calendar or schedule, and only turn the television on during those times. This method provides you with conscientious, purposeful viewing—not just, “Wow, we’re home, so we should turn on the television.”



 

4. Cover your television or put it away unless it is purposeful viewing time. We have our television on a rolling cart in my bedroom closet.

This worked for us for most of our family’s life because if we had a television to watch movies on, it was not  hooked up to anything to keep it in one place (i.e. cable or box, etc.). I know this might not work if you have it hooked up to receive programming, but our family loved this. We just sat in the living room and talked for hours—no television calling out to us, no “favorite programs” causing us to work around them. If you do have your television hooked up to something, you might consider having it in an armoire or other close-able cupboard. Again, the out of sight, out of mind concept works wonders, especially for younger children.





5. When you do watch movies and television, watch it together whenever possible.

This will allow you to keep tabs on what your children are seeing/hearing, but it will also create opportunities for lively discussions. We love to talk about movies that we have watched. We love to quote lines from them back and forth to each other. Watching together allows you to share the entertainment, not just passively watch shows separately.

Obviously, we cannot do this all the time. The boys were on a Psyche kick  (on dvd)with one of their sisters. They only watched it when the four of them could all watch it together—and Ray and I seldom joined them. We didn’t have the time then to devote to watching it, and we knew that they were watching it together, so that worked out well.

Family viewing will be more of an event than an everyday occasion if certain shows or time slots are dedicated to family television watching or movie watching rather than just evening free-for-alls.



6. Declare certain days “tv-less days.”

 If you cannot get rid of television programming all together, the “tv-less days” seems to be the next best thing to me. Decide what evenings/days are people’s least favorite days to watch something, and make those evenings no television evenings. Cover the television up—and don’t even consider turning it on. If you manage to have three evenings a week without television, you will likely cut your family’s viewing by one third, at least. Just imagine evenings together without anything distracting everybody. If you do this, follow our family’s “replacement” rule—if you’re going to take something away from your kids, replace it with something else. (More on this tomorrow!)



Well, I am out of time and space. Tomorrow I will post tips for television viewing reduction for children specifically. Same bat time. Same bat channel. (Sorry–I just couldn’t resist.)


*Note: With the ability to watch things online, watch dvd’s, stick a dvd in the laptop, etc., we have found it especially important to include all viewing in these time or day limits. Thus, the four to six hours a week includes anything they watch—unless they watch it at Grandpa’s for an overnighter or go to their brother’s to watch football or something.





Know How You Learn

Recently, my son and I were meeting about our novel. Joshua started to describe the changes he thought we should make to a particular scene and told me I could just jot down whatever I thought I needed to. I told him to hold on for a minute while I got a blank sheet of paper, then I promptly did the following:

1. Numbered each note as he spoke
2. Put sub notes under the note with the character’s initial and the motivational changes that Joshua thought we needed (M: Needs to begin this scene….)
3. Drew arrows to and from things as he spoke

Then when I was ready to rewrite that scene, guess what I did? I typed those notes all up–complete with the numbering and sub-numbering, etc.

Why am I telling you this? If you are a student, pay close attention to HOW you learn. I could not have written from paragraph notes. I could not have written with a word or two for each point. I could not have written from my handwritten notes–I needed to type it up in order to further understand it.

Whatever you do as a student to learn tells you a lot about how you learn! Utilize this information for test preparation, writing projects, and more. And like I always tell my students: “You know more than you realize you know!”

Helping Kids Back to School–Homework and Textbooks (Reprint)

“The object of education is to prepare the young to educate themselves throughout their lives.” Robert M Hutchins





I wanted to add some more thoughts to yesterday’s “study skills with textbook previewing.” These are in no certain order or age group—just some things that haven’t really fit in the last couple! (How’s that for organizing and study skills???)

1. Taking the textbook preview further


There are a number of ways that you can take the previewing of textbooks that I discussed yesterday even further with your children for more comprehension of the material:


a. Do his first few assignments out of the book with him, pointing out the things again that you observed in your first preview. This will help him see that those things are not just good things to know, but also helpful for completely homework quicker and more accurately.


b. Help him prepare for his first test with his textbook and you by his side. Show him how he can use the glossary, sidebars, table of contents, etc. to quickly fill in his study guide or quickly determine what the most important aspects of the chapter are in order to prepare for a test.


c. As you are previewing a text (for the first time or an additional time), use a large sticky note to record what you find. Write the title of the text at the top, then make notes about what it contains as far as study and homework helps. Stick this in the front of his textbook and help him refer to it when he is doing homework or test preparation. You could even record a plus and minus system, such as


+++ means something is going to be really helpful—a +++ beside the Table of Contents, for instance


+ beside a word he writes in the front of his book tells him that this might be somewhat helpful—Example: +Some graphs


– No study questions at end of chapter—again, he can make a list in the front of his book (on a large sticky note), etc.




d. Help him “label” different sections of his book with sticky notes along the edges. For example, you could put a yellow one at the beginning of each chapter and a pink one on the page that has definitions for that chapter, etc.








2. Prepare your younger student for textbooks by using user-friendly non-fiction books


Maybe you are not in the textbook stage with your kids; however, you can begin preparing them for those all important study skills that I described yesterday with quality non-fiction books. If kids at ages five, six, eight, and ten, learn to navigate around Dorling Kindersley, Eyewitness, and Usborne books (among many others), they will be heads and shoulders above other children who have only been exposed to fictional stories (more on the benefits of fiction later!).


These outstanding non-fiction books have literally hundreds of topics that interest kids, but they are so colorful and alluring, you do not feel like you are “teaching” at all. Additionally, they have many aspects that your child’s future textbooks will also have: glossaries, Tables of Contents, sidebars, graphs, pictures, inserts, definitions, bold font, italics, etc. Reading these to and with your children when they are younger will provide a natural step into textbooks later on.




Note: We teach our students (in our home, our cottage classes, and in our language arts books) a simple memory device for remembering fiction and non-fiction:




Fiction=fake (both begin with f)






Non-fiction=not fake (both begin with nf)

Textbook Previewing With Your Kids (Reprint)

                      Back to School January 2013–Helping Your Kids With the New Semester

With a new semester of school upon us, I want to rerun some study skills posts that I did a year or so ago. Many students change classes mid-year, so here are some tips to help you help your kids get accustomed to their new books: textbook previewing.

I recommend that you go through their text books with them and help them look for these things. This will be time well spent as your student learns how to learn. This will carry over to research–when he is looking for books to use for report writing, etc., he will know what to look for in a book, how to find easy-to-use sources, etc., simply from the small amount of time that you walked him through his text books.

“The object of education is to prepare the young to educate themselves throughout their lives.” Robert M Hutchins






Try these specific strategies for previewing textbooks with your student to help him or her get the most out of his or her texts this year:


1. Graphs and charts—Remind your student that charts and graphs usually restate (in another form) what is indicated in the text. He can use these for quick overviews, as well as for reviewing before tests.


2. Enumerations—If his text uses a lot of enumeration, it could be that this subject has a significant number of lists to be learned. Point him to these lists and show him that often what is listed in the margins or sidebars is also expounded upon within the text.


3. Section headings—The more headings a book contains, the easier it is to learn from. The student is constantly reminded, by the headings and subheadings, of what the section is about. Show him how helpful these headings can be as he uses the book during his reading and for test preparation.


4. Pictorial aids—Maps are always in included in history textbooks. If his textbook contains a large assortment of maps, show him how they can help him see the big picture. Maps usually show where something that is discussed in the text occurred.


5. Glossary—Books that contain glossaries give the student an easy way to find definitions that may be more obscure within the text. Teach him to use this for quick finds, but encourage him to use the text itself for most studying since students who learn vocabulary in context retain it better.


6. Tables of Contents—The Table of Contents can be used somewhat like an index to find where information is in a particular chapter. It is especially good for getting a big picture about a whole chapter.


7. Prefaces, introductions, and summaries—If a text has any of these three, some of the work is already done for the student. Show him how advantageous these are for quick previewing of a chapter.


8. Footnotes—If a student is in a class that requires research papers, footnotes can be a real plus. We teach our research paper students to use lengthy works’ footnotes to find other credible sources that they might use in their papers.


9. Appendixes—Appendixes are the “extra credit” of the book. I always like to thin of myself as a prized pupil, so I tend to gravitate to these right at first, since they’re usually for those who want additional information—and I always want to know more! Tell your students that sometimes the appendixes aren’t even used in the actual course, but they are good for learning more, for research-based reports, and for cementing what is found in the text.


10. Indexes—If a book doesn’t have an index, I say send it back and get a new one! Show your student how quickly he can find information with the index. The more specific the index, the better it is for the student.


11. Bibliography—The bibliography gives lists of books, articles, and documents relating to the subjects in the textbook. Like footnotes, we direct our research paper students to these.


12. Pronunciation guides—These guides give the phonetic markings to aid in reading unfamiliar words. Many texts do not have these guides, but they are helpful in a class where a student will be giving presentations so the can pronounce unknown words correctly.




Any signaling or sign posting that a book contains is that much more opportunity for the visual learner, especially, to learn and retain. If you have an auditory learner, you might have to record his vital info on cd or cassette! Smile…More study skills coming soon!!!

Christmas Read Alouds for 10 and Under–With Links and Ratings!

Different ones have asked for more read aloud ideas, especially my very favorites, so I thought I would list them by age (today—ten and under) and by category (i.e. “Bible-related”; traditions; devotional; etc.) with *** by my “very-most-favorite-if-we-only-read-a-handful-of-christmas-books-this-year-this-would-be-one-of-them”! Hope this helps you as you prepare to celebrate the birth of Christ with your sweet children.






Key:


***Wouldn’t want to go a Christmas without it


**Great


*Good enough for my list! 🙂






Note: I have included “out of print” ones because you can often pick them up used or at the library.






“Bible/Nativity-Related Stories/Retellings”






***Adornaments –different than your typical “nativity ornaments,” which we also have had through the years, this adornaments set is a book with cardboard ornaments containing the names of Christ and a verse on each one to go with that name. I liked doing this with the kids as it connected the nativity story with Christ as our Savior (and more!) too. http://www.amazon.com/Adorenaments-Parenting-FamilyLife/dp/1572292385



***“The Indescribable Gift” by Richard Exley; Illustrated by Phil Boatwright (out of print); this is a beautiful, elegant Christmas picture book with the Christmas story told from the point of view of all the major players: Zechariah, Mary, Elizabth, Joseph, The Innkeeper, The Shepherds, Simeon, and more. A truly lovely book—for up through adults. A chapter out of this a day makes a wonderful advent devotional. http://www.alibris.com/search/books/qwork/3185413/used/The%20Indescribable%20Gift

**”Jotham’s Journey” Arnold Ytreeide; “Over and over Jotham screamed for his family, but there was no one to hear him. They had vanished. He was alone. Where had they gone? How long ago had they left? Through quick, stabbing sobs Jotham told himself, “I must look for my family, I must search until I find them.” And so his journey begins. In this widely popular, exciting story for the Advent season, readers follow ten-year-old Jotham across Israel as he searches for his family. Though he faces thieves, robbers, and kidnappers, Jotham also encounters the wise men, shepherds, and innkeepers until at last he finds his way to the Savior born in Bethlehem” (CBD Review). http://www.christianbook.com/jothams-journey/arnold-ytreeide/9780825441745/pd/441745/1152561199?item_code=WW&netp_id=533620&event=ESRCN&view=details

**”Bartholomew’s Passage” by Arnold Ytreeide; same type of story as “Jotham’s Journey” but a different child and circumstances. http://www.christianbook.com/bartholomews-passage/arnold-ytreeide/9780825441738/pd/441738?event=AAI

**”Tabitha’s Travels” by Arnold Ytreeide; same type of story as “Jotham’s Journey” but a different child and circumstances http://www.christianbook.com/tabithas-travels-arnold-ytreeide/9780825441721/pd/441720/1152561199?event=AAI

*“King of the Stable” by Melody Carlson; Illustrated by Chris Ellison (not in print); cute picture book about a boy who worked in the stable when Jesus was born; lovely illustrations. http://www.amazon.com/King-Stable-Melody-Carlson/dp/158134032X

*“The Tale of Three Trees: A Traditional Folktale” by Angela Elwell Hunt; Illustrated by Tim Jonke; neat story about how three trees grew up to be the boat Jesus was on, the manger, and the cross. http://www.christianbook.com/the-tale-of-three-trees/angela-hunt/9780745917436/pd/19014?item_code=WW&netp_id=155456&event=ESRCN&view=details

*“The Singing Shepherd” by Angela Elwell Hunt; Illustratoins by Peter Palagonia (out of print); a cute story about a little singing shepherd boy; http://www.amazon.com/Singing-Shepherd-Angela-Elwell-Hunt/dp/0745930360/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&s=books&qid=1292211682&sr=8-1

*“The Black Sheep” by Elisabeth Heck; Illustrated by Sita Jucker (out of print); cute picture book about a little black sheep who met Baby Jesus. http://www.alibris.com/search/books/qwork/732200/used/The%20Black%20Sheep

*“A King Is Born” by Patricia St. John; Illustrated by Richard Scott (out of print); nice picture book about the birth of Christ; more true to Scripture than many others (i.e. the wise men come when they are supposed to!) http://www.amazon.co.uk/king-born-Patricia-St-John/dp/0862016215

**“Mary’s Treasure Box” by Carolyn Walz Kramlich; Illustrated by Walter Porter; told from Mary’s point of view when she was a grandmother, the cover says, “Beyond retelling the story of Christ’s birth, “Mary’s Treasure Box” creatively shares lessons about Christ gleaned through the objects in a simple wooden box—a bit of straw, wool, flut, and swaddling cloths.” Neat way to tell the nativity story and provide insights into that first Christmas. http://www.thomasnelson.com/consumer/product_detail.asp?sku=0849958342&title=&author=Carolyn_Kramlich

*“The Crippled Lamb” by Max Lucado; Illustrated by Liz Bonham; another sweet Christmas story involving a little lamb on the first Christmas; nice illustrations http://www.christianbook.com/lucado-childrens-treasury-childs-first-collection/max-lucado/9781400310487/pd/310480?item_code=WW&netp_id=480026&event=ESRCN&view=details

***“The Very First Christmas” by Paul L Maier; Illustrated by Francisco Ordaz; from the cover: “No more fairy tales for Christopher; he wants a real bedtime story. So his mother tells the amazing and miraculous story of Jesus’ birth. Along the way, Christopher learns the answers to some challenging questions about the Christmas story. And all the answers are right from the Bible. You have selected a wonderful gift for children, families, and friends. Written by best-selling author and historian, Paul L. Maier, and richly illustrated by Francisco Ordaz..” I agree! http://www.christianbook.com/the-very-first-christmas-softcover/paul-maier/9780758606167/pd/606168?item_code=WW&netp_id=316844&event=ESRCN&view=details

*“Mary’s First Christmas” by Walter Wangerin, Jr.; Illustrated by Timothy Ladwig; the Christmas story written in journal form from the view of Mary; lots of good insights and lovely illustrations http://www.christianbook.com/marys-first-christmas-walter-wangerin/9780310222163/pd/22168?item_code=WW&netp_id=109947&event=ESRCN&view=details

***“One Wintry Night” by Ruth Bell Graham; Illustrated by Richard Jesse Watson; from the cover: “When a young mountain boy is caught alone in a sudden snowstorm, he takes refuge in a cabin his grandfather had helped to build many years before. The woman living there shelters the boy, attends to his badly swollen ankle, and spends the hours they are snow-bound telling him the Christmas story—beginning with creation and concluding with the resurrection.” This is a remarkable book—one that ties creation with Christmas and Easter! It is lengthy, so will likely take several reading sessions, but the amazing illustrations and deep-teaching-text are worth it! http://www.christianbook.com/one-wintry-night-gift-edition/ruth-graham/9780801013065/pd/013065/1152539202?item_code=WW&netp_id=481521&event=ESRCN&view=details

“Traditions and More” Types of Books






***The ADVENTure of Christmas” by Lisa Welchel; One of my favorite easy-to-read-aloud Christmas books–filled with lots of activities, recipes, etc. about each tradition/entry. I like it more for the one-page-per tradition in easy kid language. I have a lot of books about Christmas traditions and symbols, but this is the best one I’ve found for younger kids. http://www.bookschristian.com/The-ADVENTure-of-Christmas-by-Lisa-Whelchel-book-p/73449.htm

*”The First Christmas Tree: A Legend From Long Ago” by Helen Haidle Illustrated by David and Elizabeth Haidle (out of print); a story describing the origins of decorating with the evergreen tree http://www.amazon.com/First-Christmas-Tree-Legend-Long/dp/080104393X

**”The Legend of the Christmas Tree: An Inspirational Story of a Treasured Tradition” by Rick Osborne; Illustrated by Bill Dodge; another story describing the origins of decorating with the evergreen tree http://www.harpercollins.com/books/Legend-Christmas-Tree/?isbn=9780310700432

*“The Real 12 Days of Christmas” by Helen Haidle; Illustrated by Celeste Henriquez out (of print); interesting and fun for those who know the song; nice pics http://www.amazon.com/Real-Twelve-Christmas-Helen-Haidle/dp/031070118X

**“Saint Nicholas: The Real Story of the Christmas Legend: by Julie Stiegemeyer; Illustrated by Chris Ellison http://www.christianbook.com/saint-nicholas-story-christmas-legend-hardcover/julie-stiegemeyer/9780758603760/pd/603762?item_code=WW&netp_id=316815&event=ESRCN&view=details

*“The Legend of the Candy Cane: The Inspirational Story of Our Favorite Christmas Candy” by Lori Walburg; Illustrated by James Bernardin; sweet, sweet story and tradition http://www.christianbook.com/the-legend-of-the-candy-cane/lori-walburg/9780310212478/pd/21247?item_code=WW&netp_id=131129&event=ESRCN&view=details

“Other Christmas Stories or ‘Set at Christmastime Type Stories”






***“The Christmas Tapestry” by Patricia Polacco; this tale has been handed down for generations and is told in other settings/places/time periods (such as the “Ivory and Lace Tablecloth” in one of our Christmas collections); this is a lovely story; we read it yearly http://www.christianbook.com/christmas-tapestry-patricia-polacco/9780142411650/pd/411650?item_code=WW&netp_id=524629&event=ESRCN&view=details

*“The Quiet Little Woman” by Louisa May Alcott; Illustrations by C. Michael Dudash http://www.christianbook.com/louisa-may-alcotts-christmas-treasury/9781589199507/pd/99500?item_code=WW&netp_id=283266&event=ESRCN&view=details

***“A Christmas Treasury: The Children’s Classic Edition” Illustrated by Christian Birmingham; from the cover: “Celebrate the magical Christmas season with this enchanting pageant of beloved classics that have earned their place as holiday favorites. This yuletide collection features Louisa May Alcott’s vision of holiday spirit in “Little Women’s A Merry Christmas,” “The Night Before Christmas,” “Jingle Bells,” and much more.” Beautifully illustrated—this is a lovely book. Hard to find Christmas “collections” for this age group with classic stories too (and not all contemporary mouse and reindeer stories); love this collection for this age group! http://www.amazon.com/Christmas-Treasury-Childrens-Classic/dp/0762411384

**“The Candle in the Window” based on a story by Leo Tolstoy by Grace Johnson; Illustrated by Mark Elliot; lovely and heartwarming (out of print) http://www.amazon.com/Candle-Window-Grace-Johnson/dp/0800718151

**“The Christmas Miracle of Jonathan Toomy” by Susan Wojciechowski; Illustrated by PJ Lynch; amazingly heart warming story and awesome illustrations; http://www.christianbook.com/the-christmas-miracle-jonathan-toomey-with/susan-wojciechowski/9780763636296/pd/636290/1152540236?item_code=WW&netp_id=509874&event=ESRCN&view=details

*“A Child’s Christmas at S. Nicolas Circle” by Douglas Kaine McKelvy; Illustrated by Thomas Kinkade; illustrations are beautiful (of course!); story is well-written and heartwarming http://www.amazon.ca/gp/product/0849958830?ie=UTF8&tag=httpwwwgoodco-20&linkCode=as2&camp=1789&creative=9325&creativeASIN=0849958830&SubscriptionId=1MGPYB6YW3HWK55XCGG2

Twelve Homeschooling Tips–All Twelve Tips!

                                   The Best School Year Ever!*
                                        “Twelve Homeschooling Tips for 2012”
                                                                       By Donna Reish

*Note: This was recently published on this blog in increments of twelve in keeping with our “Twelve for 2012” theme (and in The Homemade News, the newsletter of Fort Wayne Area Homeschools, in two parts). Here I have compiled all of them in one place! Thanks for joining us.

This fall marks the beginning of our twenty-ninth year of homeschooling! Twenty-nine years ago, with an almost-one-year-old in tow, my husband and I began our homeschooling journey by homeschooling my then-junior-high little sister. At that same time, we began helping those who wanted to homeschool in Ohio (our next-door-neighbor state) but needed a “covering” to report to according to their state law during the early eighties.  I did not know much about homeschooling in general and teaching specifically at the age of twenty-one years old (despite an elementary education degree followed by master’s work in reading education), but I dug in as best I could. Little did we know that this adventure would become a way of life for us—a parenting and educational method that has brought us countless joys, challenges, and fulfillment.

Here we are nearly three decades later—still homeschooling and still helping others in their homeschool endeavors. Today I bring you tips that we have discovered on our journey—tips to make this “the best school year ever”!

 

1.     Get Teacher Training and Support

I could go on and on about how little support, scarce materials, and few homeschoolers there were nearly thirty years ago—but I don’t want to be accused of describing how we homeschooled “walking uphill five miles in waist deep snow without shoes,” so suffice it to say that we are immensely blessed to have the support, training, and freedoms that we have today. (For instance, we had “home visits” from the local superintendent, principal, and social workers during our first year of teaching my sister!)

Take advantage of the opportunities available for training! If you are unable to attend physical conventions, learn all you can online, in webcasts, virtual conventions, and more. Read websites and books. However, do not get overwhelmed! Stop reading and researching when that reading and research becomes burdensome rather than helpful.

Additionally, get support! We have enjoyed support groups, networking, and small parenting groups throughout our tenure of homeschooling. One of the best things to happen to me concerning support is the formation, nearly twenty years ago, of a little four-mom parenting/homeschooling support group. We met with our “littles” at McDonalds—and since I like to have a purpose for everything I do, I labeled our group the “MAC” group—Mother’s Advisory Committee, who met at McDonalds. We have taken parenting classes, done marriage videos with our spouses, gone through Bible studies, completed video teaching with our entire families/kids, field tripped, played, prayed, planned, and more.

I can’t stress enough the importance of finding like-minded parents to take this journey with. When one of us wondered why in the world we were doing what we were doing (in parenting, homeschooling, or life in general), the others were there to remind us. It wasn’t uncommon at all for one of us to call another and say, “Okay, Josiah is still in the high chair from breakfast, and he is still screaming and throwing his spoon. Remind me again why I shouldn’t just give him his own way and go on with my day!”

 

2.     Solve Discipline Problems Ahead of Time

If you have heard us speak about parenting young children, you have probably heard us say that we did not believe in starting “school” with a child until he was obedient most of the time. Thus, the reason for many of our children not starting formal education until age eight! Seriously though, the time to deal with discipline issues is before you begin school, if at all possible.

Our theory behind “don’t start school until the child learns to obey” is a valid one: If a child will not sit down at the table for dinner, brush his teeth when told, or clean his room, why do we think he will sit down and do his math, finish his school independent list, or do his science?

This is not to say that you will not have discipline problems as you homeschool. One of Ray’s favorite lines about homeschooling and character problems is that “We have the opportunity to see all of our kids’ faults and discipline problems—and the opportunity to correct them.” Our goal before beginning formal instruction for each new pupil was that the child was “characterized by obedience.” That is, he was known for obedience more often than not.

Obviously, we cannot just not do school this year if our kids are undisciplined. However, we would have a much better year if we really zeroed in on discipline issues and handled them as opposed to going through the motions of school while allowing these problems to continue. There are many excellent books about parenting to help us. There are seminars and video courses. We have the tools available to us to learn to parent biblically and train our children in obedience and character. (See the sidebar for some resources that we offer to help you in the area of Christian parenting as well as a couple other recommendations.)

 

SIDEBAR:

Christian Parenting Help             

Reb Bradley books and articles

Kevin Leman books—we began with Making Children Mind Without Losing Yours

Our parenting/homeschooling book: The Well-Trained Heart (read first chapter at www.tfths.com)

Our parenting seminar: Character Training From the Heart (call to host one in your church or area—260-597-7415)

 

Parenting seminar: Parenting Is Heart Work

Our parenting blog—over 500 articles with topical index on the home page: http://positiveparenting3-6-5.blogspot.com/   (Positive Parenting 365—also available on FaceBook)

 

 

3.     Understand Learning Styles and Readiness

My first “homeschool purchase” for our own children twenty-eight years ago was the complete set of audios of “Your Story Hour”—Bible, true life, character, and history stories of the “Uncle Dan and Aunt Sue” venue. I remember clearly running my fingers over the cassette holders, smelling them, and being so happy to have such a quality product to help me teach Joshua. He, on the other hand, was more interested in playing in the box that they came in. Then along came Kayla, one of the smartest little girls I had ever seen, yet she couldn’t write her name for years and years. Both Joshua and Kayla showed me right away what their learning styles were—those audio cassettes, along with daily lengthy read-aloud sessions with Mom, were their avenues for learning for many years, for they could learn nearly anything (except how to write their names!) by listening. Along came our third child, and if it didn’t have pictures and she couldn’t snuggle close, her learning didn’t seem to transpire so easily. (The exception to this is when we began getting Ken Ham audios. She was mesmerized by his voice and wanted to listen to him every day!) Cami was anything but an audio learner. She loved workbooks and activities—the more, the better. We understood early on that we were homeschooling in order to provide the kind of education that we wanted for our children—and the kind that each child needed. Thus, we learned about learning styles and purchased materials accordingly. We used multi-sensory materials and definitely had our non-auditory learners still listen, but focused on their learning styles in the areas of math and reading, especially. There is a wealth of information out there about the three primary learning styles (auditory, visual, and kinesthetic), as well as how to determine how your child learns best.

 

 

Along with learning styles, we also learned early on—through my elementary education studies, my master’s work in Reading Specialist, and then later from Dr. Raymond Moore’s (one of the pioneers of the Christian homeschooling movement)—that readiness does not come at the same time for all children, nor at the same time for each gender. We learned about a phenomenon then called “Integrated Maturity Level”—the level at which many aspects come together for a child and he or she is ready for more formal instruction. This often takes place between the ages of seven and ten. And we set out to wait on it for each of our children—in an effort to make learning easier and to develop a love for learning and homeschooling in them.

Until the time of readiness for formal learning arrived for each child, we taught informally, all of the time. And our kids loved school and loved learning. We even adjusted our school to allow for late bloomers without labels: kindergarten began when a child was six years old by September first; first grade began when a child was seven years old by September first. No pressure—on the children or on me. It was an absolutely blissful way to teach young children. (It also allowed us to focus on obedience and character in those who needed a little more time!) The research is out there! Sure, some kids learn to read at ages four, five, or six. I think that would be fun—I’ve just never experienced it. And that is fine. Every child is different—and remember, that is one reason we chose this approach to education. The point isn’t to wait and wait for formal education. The point is to do what is best for each child in your family.

 (For more information about readiness to learn to read, check out our audios, including, “Beginning Reading Instruction.” For more information about readiness for learning in general, start with Dr. Raymond Moore’s book, Better Late Than Early.)

 

4.     Prioritize Your Life, School, and Home

This point is a three hour mini-seminar and audio series in itself, but I will try to summarize it in a couple of brief paragraphs! When we began homeschooling many years ago, even with only one little son, we found ourselves overwhelmed by activity. Ray and I were both working on our master’s degrees. We were active in church. We were homeschooling my sister and helping others homeschool. We lived close to extended family who needed and wanted our attention (including younger siblings at home). One day we sat down to solve our time and activity dilemma, and we made a list of all of the things that could/did fill our evenings—things we needed to do (meetings, etc.), things we should do (visit elderly grandparents), things we wanted to do, and things that were automatically built in (overtime, church services, etc.). When we examined our list, the total evenings that could potentially be filled came to sixty—if we did everything we could/should/would! Armed with that calendar and prioritizing help from marriage and family teaching we had received, we learned how to prioritize. We looked at the things that we wanted to say yes to—and said yes to them. We looked at the things that we could say no to—and said no to them. We applied the mantra that “when you say yes to something (or someone), you are saying no to something (or someone) else.” We asked ourselves who we truly wanted to say yes and no to—and determined early in our marriage that we did not want to say no to our immediate family (our children and each other) just because we were saying yes to someone else. 

 

Specifically, in the area of prioritizing and time management with homeschooling, when we meet new homeschoolers, we often ask them what their days (especially mothers) are like (before beginning homeschooling), and when the mom tells us how busy she was with part time work, volunteering, and other obligations, we ask her what she will cut from her day to make time (three to six hours a day, depending on the ages and neediness of the students) to homeschool. Homeschooling is not something that you can add onto an already full day. It must be prioritized—and put into the schedule before other things of lesser importance. One of the reasons that I am thankful that we started “homeschooling” when Joshua was a toddler is that I never knew of life with daytime hours that were not already earmarked for school. In other words, my days have always been spent schooling. I didn’t have to add it onto other things that I did during the day. Prioritizing school—the hours that it truly takes to educate and oversee our kids’ education—makes a huge difference in the success of a person’s homeschool.

 

5.     Teach Your Children How to Learn

Homeschooling affords us the amazing opportunity to teach our kids how to learn (among a myriad of opportunities to teach many things!). There are many aspects of teaching a child how to learn, one of which is working to increase our children’s comprehension. When people have good comprehension, they can learn anything, anywhere, anytime. There are three primary ways that we have worked to increase our children’s comprehension: (1) Discussion with parents and those more knowledgeable than the child; (2) Good questions following reading or discussions; and (3) Provide a rich background of experience.

The first two of those go hand-in-hand. Discussion of everything with our children from very young ages has given our kids experiences in areas that they would normally not have experiences in. It gives us the opportunity to teach all the time—and gives them learning hooks that they create with the discussion material to bring into other learning situations. Good questions, not just rote questions, help the student think more deeply about subjects and allow you to observe his thought processes and help them along. Lastly, a rich background of experience gives your student the edge in learning any subject. Like discussion, it gives a child more knowledge, more background, more information to bring into future learning scenarios.

I am adding some information about teaching children how to learn, good materials, links to articles, etc., in the sidebar of this article for those who would like to study this further. Just being aware of always teaching our kids how to learn, how to study, how to research, how to further their understanding is a big step in teaching kids how to learn. An awareness that it is our responsibility, and we can do it gradually all the time, goes a long way.

 

 

 

 

 

SIDEBAR….

                        Tips and Links for Teaching Children How to Learn

 

~People often ask us what we would have done differently in our homeschool. One of the things I would have done differently is that every child, every year would have done a thinking skills book of some sort from the Critical Thinking Company: http://www.criticalthinking.com/index.jsp?code=c

 

 

~Dozens of articles on reading instruction, readability, creating an environment conducive to reading instruction, choosing readers, and much more! http://positiveparenting3-6-5.blogspot.com/search/label/reading%20instruction

 

 

6.     Be Efficient in Your School Day

 

With six children in school for many years (and a baby or toddler too!) , I have been on a personal quest for efficiency in my school day! I have learned so much about time management and efficiency through homeschooling. I will give four primary tips for efficiency in this article, but we have many, many ideas in our audio series, “Helps for Homeschooling Moms: Prioritizing, Organizing, and Scheduling Your Life, School, and Home.”

First of all, I used multi-level learning whenever possible. This included doing unit studies for content areas (history, science, health, etc.) using a bus stop approach to teaching. In the bus stop approach, I started out with all children present for our studies and began with the easiest materials I used. Then as the materials increased in difficulty or decreased in interest for the little ones, I would “drop them off at the bus stops” (i.e. release them to go play, have room time, do chores, etc.) and continue on with higher level material. As the session progressed, little ones would “get off the bus” and go to other things until at the end of the session, I was covering more challenging material that might only interest or pertain to older ones. (We always allowed littles to stay and learn with us while playing Legoes, etc., for the “trickle down effect,” if the child desired!)

Secondly, I grouped students together whenever possible. Our daughters all took high school biology, sewing, and Spanish together—even though they were in grades six, nine, and ten. It was efficient, and they enjoyed studying together.

Third, I always used grading time wisely. I would sit down with the child’s English or math and grade with him or her beside me. As I found an error, we could go over it right there. It was teaching time at its best—teaching directly from the student’s mistakes.

Lastly, we made our students as responsible for their education as they could possibly be at each age. We began early on using daily chore charts and independent school lists. The latter were lists of tasks that each child needed to do every day by himself in school. Thus, any silent reading, handwriting pages, cd roms, and other activities that the child could do without Mom were listed in the order that the student was to do it—and he could just go down the list and do it every day without needing any input or help. This gave me the chance to work with other kids—and I knew that everybody was busy when they were not meeting with me.

 

 

7.     Learn to Teach Like Jesus

Many years ago we were introduced to the concept of teaching like Jesus taught. We have since delved into that further, realizing that Jesus was not only a model of how to teach concepts to our children, but he was also the epitome of relationship building with people. This has helped us in our parenting and discipling of our children in general (not just in “teaching” or homeschooling).

One of the things that has stuck with us the most is the concept of time in Jesus’ teaching. Jesus taught all the time! He taught Nicodemus late at night; he taught during meals via the last supper and other “potluck” style opportunities. This reinforced the concept in Deuteronomy 6:7 of teaching our children all the time—as we do everything—as we live. Along the lines of different time frames, we also noted that Jesus taught varying lengths of time. Sometimes he taught short and straight to the point (the woman at the well). Other times he had lengthy teaching sessions, such as the Sermon on the Mount. Sometimes he taught so long he went right on through meal times! We, too, need to be aware of our audience—and their time limitations, our scheduling needs, etc.

Jesus also used various types of teaching. This reminded us that some kids need a certain type of instruction while others need something else. In Matthew 18:12, Jesus asked the question, “What do you think?” This has become a common mantra for our parenting/teaching. We have wanted to allow the kids to tell us what they already know or what they think—and then we could build on that. Asking open ended questions is a super method for academic training—and for heart training.

Of course, Jesus also taught one-on-one (again, Nicodemus and the woman at the well); small group (twelve disciples); and large group (five thousand). There have been many things in our homeschool that were perfectly suited to one-on-one instruction. Other things were great for small group—and we used unit studies and other “small group” instruction situations with our kids together. Some things were truly best suited to a larger group, such as speech and debate, drama, and choir.

Jesus used storytelling extensively. He used God’s word to tell stories. And he used nature to tell stories—pearls, fish, trees, water were all object lessons. We have taken his concept of using nature to heart. We have used animals via Answers in Genesis materials, zoo trips, etc. We have used Character Sketches books for twenty-nine years to teach character and Bible—half of each book is using nature to teach character! Sometimes we just look at the snow, clouds, stars, ocean—and an instant lesson in spiritual truth presents itself!

Jesus taught in unusual places—which we have found extremely effective and fun—for the kids and parents! Jesus taught in a boat, by a well, on a hillside, in a garden, on the water, under the stars. Kids love surprises and unusual things. And we have enjoyed providing surprises and unusual places to learn—zoos, parks, sleeping at the top of the jungle gym at Science Central, camping out on the “bunks” at the fort, and more have provided us with unusual and enjoyable learning opportunities.

Lastly, Jesus had characteristics of a superior teacher—that we homeschoolers should model after. He knew his audience—and he taught accordingly. He was teachable, even as a teacher: “I only do what I see my Father do.” He had his priorities in order: “Seek ye first the kingdom of God” (Matthew 6:33).  And he didn’t “just teach”—he discipled: “Come ye after me” (Mark 1:17). Wow, “to be like Jesus”—to teach like Jesus! Now that would make me a successful homeschooler!

 

 

 

Tip 8: Develop a Love for Learning in Your Children

 

We have entire articles and multi-part workshops on how to develop a love for learning in your children., so writing a few paragraphs about this topic is a challenge! (To read the many parts of a lengthy article called “Creating a Love for Learning in Your Homeschool,” go to http://ati.iblp.org/ati/family/articles/teaching/loveforlearning/ .)

 

First of all, though, I will say that a love for learning is usually not developed in a child who is pushed to learn things for which he is not ready. Period.  It just makes sense. Of course, if a child struggles and struggles to learn to read, and we push and push day after day—even though reading readiness has not been realized, that child will grow to hate reading, learning, and oftentimes, school and homeschooling.

 

Secondly,  model a love for learning for your children. Your children want to be just like you! They might not say it. They might say just the opposite at times, but the fact is, they want to be just like Mom and Dad.

 

The beginning of teaching our children any skill is to model that skill for them. I remember in teacher’s college when the trendy topic was SSR—Sustained Silent Reading. The goal of SSR was to set aside ten or fifteen minutes each school day to have every student reading. The superior teachers were the ones who didn’t grade papers or file their nails during SSR; they read too. The idea was that if the teacher modeled reading for her students, they would follow her example.

 

The same is true for homeschooling parents with modeling a love for learning. Do you force-feed your children what they need to learn, but remain stagnant in your own learning? Do you act as though you already “know it all,” so there is nothing else for you to learn? Do you seek out information about topics you are interested in learning more about?

 

Several years ago when we took a family vacation to Disney World®, I was able to put this “modeling a love for learning” to the test with our children.  I carried (well, whoever carried the backpack actually carried) an eight-hundred-page volume titled, The Unofficial Guide to Disney World®. I pulled it out as we traveled to each park, reading aloud about the best viewing spots for the afternoon parade, the worst hamburgers in the place, and the longest time one has to wait in the mid-morning to ride “Space Mountain.”

 

At first the kids teased me merciless (okay, I did have over a hundred sticky notes of various colors and sizes protruding from the sides of the book—you’re not allowed to highlight in a library book), but then they began asking me what “my book” said about this or that. Eventually, we were fighting over the book during tram, monorail, and bus rides!

 

On the last night, the kids insisted that I cover myself in sticky notes, scatter my “charts” around me (oh, I made charts too), and have my picture taken with my precious book. They saw firsthand how learning new information makes for a great vacation; they came to see the method to Mom’s madness—and I guarantee not one of them will ever take their kids to Disney World without that book! Modeling a love for learning for our children works.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Tip 9: Develop a good schedule

When homeschooling moms hear the word “schedule,” they either cringe or celebrate. It seems that there is a division of camps when it comes to scheduling. While those who “celebrate” the schedule might be guilty of micro-managing their children and maybe even putting undue pressure on them, those who ‘cringe” when confronted with the idea of scheduling might suffer from a lack of productivity due to their disdain for schedules.

I have found that you do not have to have a love-hate relationship with schedules, but rather you have to figure out which type of homeschooler you are—one who loves schedules and wants to follow one to the letter or one who doesn’t care for them and would do better with a looser type of schedule that still provides some sense of structure.

If you love schedules, then you will probably do better with a moment-by-moment, or at least hour-by-hour one to guide your day. If you are “allergic” to schedules, you might find a block type of schedule in which you do certain things in a certain order during certain time periods to suit your time management style. I used a combination of both—but always had the “block schedule” in mind for even our toddlers all the way through high school. I divided our day up into “early morning,” “morning,” “noontime,” “early afternoon,” “late afternoon,” “early evening,” “dinner hour,” and “late evening.” While I might not firmly make 10:00-10:30 math for everybody, I always knew (and the kids always knew) what to expect based on the block of time it was.

Regardless of what type of schedule you use, there are a few key things to being successful in homeschool scheduling. I will leave you with a few of these: (a) Change the schedule every few months as needed, based on the ages of your children; (b) Write the schedule out and “advertise” it for everybody in your family to see all the time; and (c) Attach things that are really important to you to things that are already in your schedule.

(a)  Change the schedule as needed. I found especially with little ones that I needed to change the schedule to adjust to their needs and my availability. When I had littles, I actually revised the schedule every season—based on how long the baby was nursing at that time; how long the toddler napped; who could do which chores now; who needed longer blocks of school meetings with me; etc. I wasn’t locked into the exact same schedule for the entire school year, but I changed it as the children changed throughout the year.

(b) Write the schedule and “advertise” it. I posted our schedules on the refrigerator, in the fronts of the kids’ binders, on their lesson plan/check sheets, etc., so that everybody could always look and see what was supposed to be happening in our day at a certain time. The lunch person always knew what time he or she was supposed to be in the kitchen; the laundry person always knew what time laundry was to be done each day. By “publishing” the schedule for all to see, I made it more official—and I could even get Dad involved in helping me enforce it if I had a true, posted schedule.

(c)   Attach important things to things that are already in your schedule. We learned this trick (along with dozens of others) from Gregg Harris twenty-five years ago—and have used it every year since then. He said that if something is really important to you to do in your family, attach that activity to an existing one. For instance, if reading aloud to your children is something you really want in your schedule, attach it to breakfast, lunch, or bedtime—times that are already established in your home. We did this with many, many things—attaching things to existing things until our attachments had attachments attached to them—and our day was one big attachment! J

 

Tip 10: Make your marriage as strong as possible

While I know that there are many single homeschooling parents out there, and I applaud them for they are truly courageous (and oftentimes extremely self-sacrificing to give up income and time on another whole level than we married homeschoolers even do), I also know that if you are married and homeschooling, it is tough, tough, tough to “do it all” with conflict between Mom and Dad.

We have had such outstanding marriage teaching in our thirty-one –plus years of marriage that I cannot imagine our marriage without them. We are grateful, together, nearly weekly, for the foundations in marriage and selflessness that were built within us through our mentors and seminars during our early years together.

While a short tip like this is not the place to solve marital discord, I can take this opportunity to encourage you to seek out help to solve any significant marriage problems. Parenting in general, and homeschooling specifically, are hard on a marriage—so many demands, so many needs. We have had low times in our relationship just like anybody else, but we always fought (together!) for our marriage. We always got help. We always surrendered our own wants to the other eventually.

In homeschooling, a united marriage is more crucial than ever. There are more decisions to be made every single week in a homeschool family than if someone else is taking care of your children’s education (and all daytime needs) for you. Try to set aside time to talk about those decisions, child discipline, schedules, attitudes, spiritual growth, and more. It isn’t easy, but your kids are worth it—and your marriage is worth it.

If you have marriage difficulties that cannot be solved simply by talking through them or reading a book, we recommend that you run, not walk, to get help. We have heard amazing reports about “A Weekend to Remember” (marriage seminars by FamilyLIfe by Dennis Rainey). One of the best marriage seminars we have ever been to (and we have been to tons of workshops, sessions, seminars, etc.) was by Dr. Sharon Hart May (author of “How to Argue So Your Spouse Will Listen”). She truly understands people in general and couples specifically. (She does weekend seminars and has private, lengthy counseling sessions at a few locations around the country.)

 

 

Tip 11: Learn to Be Organized

 

While I like to cut people slack whenever possible, it feels like we homeschoolers have become too lax sometimes. Yes, there will be “those days”; however, just like in parenting in general, when we have more of “those days” than we do true learning days, we might be in danger of becoming too laid back. One of the best ways to ensure that we are getting the things done that we need to get done is to get organized.

Organization, much like scheduling, often falls into two camps—those who know/think they are and those who know they are not (and often feel that they can never become so).  Running a homeschool (and even running a family, in many ways) is much like running a business. A company runs  better when it is organized, and so does our homeschool.

We all have areas in which we are more organized than others; we all have things that we can seem to keep running smoothly—and those things that just seem to elude us when we try to get organized.  A big part of organization is being able to prioritize, delegate, and get rid of (not have in our lives). What I have found—and what I continually tell my grown children—is that you cannot do everything in life well all at the same time. It is unrealistic (and defeating) to think you can “do it all” and do it well. This is why so many people (and I do this still sometimes even though I know the truth!) say, “I can keep good meals on the table and school running well, but as soon as XXX starts (soccer, 4-H, farming season…whatever), it all falls apart. Time is a simple mathematical formula—and too much activity or too many things in the schedule over a twenty-four hour period will use up the time—and leave you with a time deficit, and, in turn, that feeling that “I just can’t do it all.” Because truly, you (and I) cannot.

Since we often speak on time management, prioritizing, organizing, and scheduling, people automatically think I am extremely organized—which I am—in the areas that I am able to handle. My mom used to tell me that I am the most disorganized organized person that she has ever known, proving what I said above. I cannot do it all (and I never act like I can—I just skip the things I can’t do; it’s just the way it is); thus, the areas that I am running (i.e. keeping the plates going) are fairly well run and organized. The areas that I have chosen to eliminate or ignore are neither well run nor organized. For example, we have four adults/teens in two bedrooms upstairs in a small house. I don’t have the time or money to organize it, get more dressers and closets, etc., so I simply do not go upstairs. I’m sure it is a disaster up there, but that’s okay…in order to be organized and prioritized in the other areas that I can handle, some other things have to just be okay even if they are far from perfect.

In summary, and for the purposes of this short article, prioritizing is the first step to organization—getting your life down to the truly important things to you and your spouse and ridding your life of the lesser things (at least lesser to you—some people could never handle knowing the two bedrooms upstairs are disastrous!). Then you have a shot at being organized. Then you have a chance at managing the remaining time and energy needs for your family. For me, I am happier, and feel much more organized, when I pare down my life to a certain number of hours a day in school, work, housework, work, relationships, parenting, cooking, etc. If I try to put more in my life than what the mathematical time formula allots me, I cannot be organized, but only frustrated.

Once you have pared down your life to the things that are the most crucial things, then you can apply all sorts of organizing techniques to it, such as scheduling (see above), chore sessions, tutoring sessions of meeting with your children on their subjects, managing block schedules so that everybody knows what is up during that time period, and much more.

 

Tip 12: Have Fun and Enjoy Your Children

            I know there are so many pressures, needs, and responsibilities in homeschooling, so much so, that it makes it difficult sometimes to enjoy the process. I have few regrets in our life of homeschooling and method of parenting. Oh, there are always some, but not a ton, and I’m so grateful for that. One of the things I do regret is spending so much time on living (i.e. always feeling the need to cook homemade, garage sale organize clothing into huge tubs, make just one more dish for company, and more). There are many of those things that I couldn’t change. As most of you know, living on one income with several children usually forces us to have to spend a lot of time on the areas of cooking, clothing, etc., in order to save money. However, sometimes I put so much pressure on myself to do this or that (and oftentimes it was to meet others’ expectations, I’m afraid) that I stressed myself and my children out. A stressed homeschooling mother does not enjoy homeschooling!

            So my advice to enjoy homeschooling is to not sweat the little things (doing everything perfectly, trying to do extra things that are not truly needed, etc.) and focus instead on the big things. The big things, to me, are the spiritual growth of my children, our relationships, their health and well being, and their education. If I could garage sale enough to clothe everybody all winter or can enough green beans to last us until spring—and do the “big” things—power to me. But if not, I wish I had let the lesser things go sometimes.

            Organizing, disciplining our children in love, developing deep relationships with our kids, having a schedule that works for our family, prioritizing the most important things to us, creating a love for learning in our children, keeping our marriage strong—these things can help you to have “the best school year ever”—and that is my prayer for you.

 

Homeschool Tip #11: Develop a Love for Learning in Your Children

Tip 11: Develop a Love for Learning in Your Children
 We have entire articles and multi-part workshops on how to develop a love for learning in your children. So, writing a few paragraphs about this topic if a challenge! (To read the many parts of a lengthy article called “Creating a Love for Learning in Your Homeschool,” go to http://ati.iblp.org/ati/family/articles/teaching/loveforlearning/.)
First of all, though, I will say that a love for learning is usually not developed in a child who is pushed to learn things for which he is not ready. Period.  It just makes sense. Of course, if a child struggles and struggles to learn to read, and we push and push day after day—even though reading readiness has not been realized, that child will grow to hate reading, learning, and oftentimes, school and homeschooling.
Secondly,  model a love for learning for your children. Your children want to be just like you! They might not say it. They might say just the opposite at times, but the fact is, they want to be just like Mom and Dad.
The beginning of teaching our children any skill is to model that skill for them. I remember in teacher’s college when the trendy topic was SSR—Sustained Silent Reading. The goal of SSR was to set aside ten or fifteen minutes each school day to have every student reading. The superior teachers were the ones who didn’t grade papers or file their nails during SSR; they read too. The idea was that if the teacher modeled reading for her students, they would follow her example.
 
The same is true for homeschooling parents with modeling a love for learning. Do you force-feed your children what they need to learn, but remain stagnant in your own learning? Do you act as though you already “know it all,” so there is nothing else for you to learn? Do you seek out information about topics you are interested in learning more about?
 
Several years ago when we took a family vacation to Disney World®, I was able to put this “modeling a love for learning” to the test with our children.  I carried (well, whoever carried the backpack actually carried) an eight-hundred-page volume titled, The Unofficial Guide to Disney World®. I pulled it out as we traveled to each park, reading aloud about the best viewing spots for the afternoon parade, the worst hamburgers in the place, and the longest time one has to wait in the mid-morning to ride “Space Mountain.”
At first the kids teased me merciless (okay, I did have over a hundred sticky notes of various colors and sizes protruding from the sides of the book—you’re not allowed to highlight in a library book), but then they began asking me what “my book” said about this or that. Eventually, we were fighting over the book during tram, monorail, and bus rides!
On the last night, the kids insisted that I cover myself in sticky notes, scatter my “charts” around me (oh, I made charts too), and have my picture taken with my precious book. They saw firsthand how learning new information makes for a great vacation; they came to see the method to Mom’s madness—and I guarantee not one of them will ever take their kids to Disney World without that book! Modeling a love for learning for our children works.

Homeschool Tip IX: Teach Like Jesus

 Twelve Tips for Homeschoolers: Learn to Teach Like Jesus


Many years ago we were introduced to the concept of teaching like Jesus taught. We have since delved into that further, realizing that Jesus was not only a model of how to teach concepts to our children, but he was also the epitome of relationship building with people. This has helped us in our parenting and discipling of our children in general (not just in “teaching” or homeschooling).

One of the things that has stuck with us the most is the concept of time in Jesus’ teaching. Jesus taught all the time! He taught Nicodemus late at night; he taught during meals via the last supper and other “potluck” style opportunities. This reinforced the concept in Deuteronomy 6:7 of teaching our children all the time—as we do everything—as we live. Along the lines of different time frames, we also noted that Jesus taught varying lengths of time. Sometimes he taught short and straight to the point (the woman at the well). Other times he had lengthy teaching sessions, such as the Sermon on the Mount. Sometimes he taught so long he went right on through meal times! We, too, need to be aware of our audience—and their time limitations, our scheduling needs, etc.

Jesus also used various types of teaching. This showed us that some kids need a certain type of instruction while others need something else. In Matthew 18:12, Jesus asked the question, “What do you think?” This has become a common mantra for our parenting/teaching. We have wanted to allow the kids to tell us what they already know or what they think—and then we could build on that. Asking open ended questions is a super method for academic training—and for heart training.

Of course, Jesus also taught one-on-one (again, Nicodemus and the woman at the well); small group (twelve disciples); and large group (five thousand). There have been many things in our homeschool that were perfectly suited to one-on-one instruction. Other things were great for small group—and we used unit studies and other “small group” instruction situations with our kids together. Some things were truly best suited to a larger group, such as speech and debate, drama, and choir.

Jesus used storytelling extensively. He used God’s word to tell stories. And he used nature to tell stories—pearls, fish, trees, water were all object lessons. We have taken his concept of using nature to heart. We have used animals via Answers in Genesis materials, zoo trips, etc. We have used Character Sketches books for twenty-nine years to teach character and Bible—half of the book is using nature to teach character! Sometimes we just look at the snow, clouds, stars, ocean—and an instant lesson in spiritual truth presents itself!

Jesus taught in unusual places—which we have found extremely effective and fun—for the kids and parents! Jesus taught in a boat, by a well, on a hillside, in a garden, on the water, under the stars. Kids love surprises and unusual things. And we have enjoyed providing surprises and unusual places to learn—zoos, parks, sleeping at the top of the jungle gym at Science Central, camping out on the “bunks” at the fort, and more have provided us with unusual and enjoyable learning opportunities.

Lastly, Jesus had characteristics of a superior teacher—that we homeschoolers should model after. He knew his audience—and he taught accordingly. He was teachable, even as a teacher: “I only do what I see my Father do.” He had his priorities in order: “Seek ye first the kingdom of God” (Matthew 6:33).  And he didn’t “just teach”—he discipled: “Come ye after me” (Mark 1:17). Wow, “to be like Jesus”—to teach like Jesus! Now that would make me a successful homeschooler!